Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Met RHEINGOLD round-up

Heidi Whaleson in the WSJ: "a high-tech extravaganza oddly married to an old-fashioned stand-and-sing aesthetic." To me, that's basically praise.

Stage-machinery malfunction at very end meant gods had to shuffle off to Buffalo instead of entering Valhalla. But hey, the history of RING productions is a history of prop malfunctions. See my Dad's book, "Prima Donnas & Other Wild Beasts," for the section on anvils that split *before* Siegfried strikes them. You deal with it.

Philly says "flawed," which tells you a lot about Philly.

My longtime friend Martin Bernheimer (writing for The Financial Times) is the world's greatest opera critic, and perhaps the last of the truly learned ones. But he's mighty hard to please in RING productions. He railed endlessly against the Met's previous, ultra-realistic one, but does he like this new, more abstract one? Ha! Oh, Martin: Neo-Bayreuth has been done, Chereau has been done, you didn't like Schenck (tho' I did), and the less said about European "Regie," the less said the better. This is something really new yet really committed to telling Wagner's story, not the director's.

Claire Prentice in The Daily Telegraph: "a triumph...Lepage treated the audience to a mesmerising display of virtual magic...Images projected on to the set evoke the depths of the Rhine, the mountaintops of the gods and the underground realm of the Nibelungen....Wearing costumes inspired by early productionsthe singers move around a stage bathed in infrared light. Computers pick up their movements and envelop them in projected pictures that move with their voices and the score. Wherever the god Loge goes, a flaming aura follows...."

Oo! Oo! A quick video about the production, narrated by director Lepage! (Ignore the opening: it's Baroque, but don't fix it.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

First reaction I've heard from tonight's premiere of RHEINGOLD (and therefore of the entire Lepage RING): "Es lebt Richard Wagner!" Sounds encouraging, no?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Berg, who was so much more than just Schoenberg! Plus Schreker, and more! Alex Ross writes about a festival at Bard this past summer:
Berg, who was born in Vienna in 1885, is classified in most music histories as an epigone of Arnold Schoenberg. Although Berg followed Schoenberg in abandoning conventional tonal harmony and, later, in adopting twelve-tone composition, his works reverberate with echoes of Wagner, Strauss, and, especially, Mahler. If Schoenberg always seemed to be marching in a straight line, Berg moved in majestic loops. In that spirit, the “Berg and His World” festival presented a dizzying mélange of early twentieth-century styles: the late-Romantic outpourings of Mahler, the gilt-edged impressionism of Schreker, the Brucknerian bombast of Franz Schmidt, the brittle sonorities of Paul Hindemith...